11 JUNE 1937, Page 21


[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.] SIR,—.AS Two Leaves and a Bud purports to be a novel and not a tract, I am not surprised that it has called forth the represen- tations which made Mr. Goronwy Rees qualify the general tenor of his review by the admission that the virtual slavery, which, I believe, exists on the tea plantations of Assam, may have been relieved by the withdrawal of the penal provisions Of the Assam Labour and Emigration Act and the repeal in 1925 of the Indian Workman's Breach of Contract Act.

But, in fact; the recommendations of the Royal (Whitley) Commission on Indian Labour, inspired by the' evidence of the ghastly conditions prevailing in Assam (issued long after 1925) have never -yet beeittlie basis of a Government me-isura to alleviate the 1Of of the plantation coolies. So that Mr. Rees' estimate Of their position as "exploited, starving, cheated, dirty, 'diseased," still holds good to a degree unimagined by the complacent directors of the monopolies which control the tea industry.

It is an extraordinary comment on the attitude of the civilised custodians of the Welfare of the Indian masses on the tea estates that a member Of the Whitley Commission asked them if "they had ever visualised that there was a labour PrObleni- and taken a proper survey of if " ; and they acknowledged that .theY could See no solution !--Yours faith- fully, Mitk RAJ ANAND.

7 Woburn Buildings,.